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Prisons Chief Rips Choice of Convicted Murderer as Commencement Speaker

The head of Pennsylvania’s prison system has harshly criticized students at Goddard College, in Vermont, for choosing as their commencement speaker a convicted murderer.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former radio journalist, was arrested in Philadelphia in 1981 and charged with murdering a police officer. He was convicted and sentenced to death, but his sentence was later reduced to life in prison. In 1996 he completed a bachelor’s-degree program offered by Goddard.

“I cannot express my disdain enough about Goddard College’s decision to allow this individual to be a commencement speaker,” John E. Wetzel, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, said in a news release.

But the college’s interim president, Robert P. Kenny, defended the students’ choice. In a statement released this week, he said their decision showed “how this newest group of Goddard graduates expresses their freedom to engage and think radically and critically in a world that often sets up barriers to do just that.”

Because he is in a Pennsylvania prison, Mr. Abu-Jamal will pre-record the address, which is scheduled to be delivered on Sunday, through a phone call.


A Vermont liberal arts college’s student selection of convicted police killer Mumia Abu-Jamal as their commencement speaker is drawing sharp criticism from Pennsylvania’s Corrections Secretary John Wetzel. Abu-Jamal, who received a bachelor’s degree from Goddard in 1996 while imprisoned, will deliver his speech via an audio recording to the 23-member graduating class of Goddard College this Sunday.

Read more at: www.pennlive.com

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U. of Mich. President Says He’s Sorry Concussed Player Was Left in Game

Facing growing public protests, the University of Michigan’s president on Tuesday apologized for how an on-field head injury to the football team’s quarterback was handled in a game on Saturday. The president, Mark S. Schlissel, also instructed the athletics department to conduct a review of its player-safety procedures.

In the game, a loss to the University of Minnesota, the quarterback Shane Morris took a hard hit and fell to the ground. After he stood, he had trouble staying upright. He remai…

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U. of Calif. to Study Whether Campuses Enroll Too Many Out-of-State Students

The number of students from other states and from overseas who are admitted to the University of California has steadily risen in recent years as the institution—like other public higher-education systems around the country—has counted on the extra tuition they pay to help offset declining state support. The issue has raised fears among parents and lawmakers that state residents are being squeezed out.

On Tuesday the university’s president, Janet Napolitano, told the Los Angeles Times that she a…

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Report Examines Fields With Highest Gender Imbalances Among Ph.D.’s

Report: “Exploring Gender Imbalance Among STEM Doctoral Degree Recipients”

Authors: Andrew Gillen and Courtney Tanenbaum, senior researchers in the education program at the American Institutes for Research

Organization: American Institutes for Research

Summary: Men are overrepresented in about three-quarters of academic fields, and women are overrepresented in about one-quarter, according a paper from the American Institutes for Research that examines gender imbalances in fields in which Ph.D.’s…

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Education Dept. Has Lax Oversight of Third-Party Security, Audit Finds

Report: “Review of Federal Student Aid’s Oversight and Monitoring of Private Collection Agency and Guaranty Agency Security Controls”

Organization: Education Department’s inspector general

Summary: The Education Department is not doing enough to ensure that student-loan debt collectors and guarantors are safeguarding sensitive student-loan information.

With regard to debt collectors, the audit found that the department:

  • Allowed required security approvals to lapse, then let debt collectors cont…
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Cornell U. Names First Female President

Cornell University has named the provost of the University of Southern California as its 13th president, according to a news release on its website. Elizabeth Garrett will be Cornell’s first female president when she takes office, on July 1, 2015.

Ms. Garrett has been Southern California’s provost since 2010. She is also a professor of law, political science, finance and business economics, and public policy.

Cornell’s current president, David J. Skorton, announced in March that he would leave t…

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Team Science Is Tied to Growth in Grants With Multiple Recipients

Report: “Together We Stand”

Authors: Alexander M. Petersen, of the IMT Institute for Advanced Studies, in Lucca, Italy, and Ioannis Pavlidis and Ioanna Semendeferi, both of the University of Houston

Publication: Nature Physics

Summary: The authors identify a continuing rise of “team science” in university research, judge it to be a desirable long-term shift, and consider the policies and habits at funding agencies and academic institutions that may be unnecessarily hindering it.

A central sugges…

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New Laws in Calif. Will Allow 4-Year Degrees at 2-Year Colleges and More ‘Dream’ Aid

Gov. Jerry Brown of California acted on Sunday on several bills that affect higher education, including signing into law measures that will allow some of the state’s community colleges to grant four-year degrees and that will let public university students who can’t take out federal loans because of their immigration status borrow from their colleges instead.

With Mr. Brown’s signature on the community-college bill, California joins 21 other states that have given two-year colleges the authority…

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Health Professions Benefit When Admission Offices Look Beyond Grades

Report: “Holistic Admission in the Health Professions”

Organization: Urban Universities for Health (a collaboration of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, and the Association of American Medical Colleges)

Summary: Across the board, health-professions schools benefit from using holistic review, an admissions process that assesses an applicant’s unique experiences alongside traditional achievement measures such as test scores and grad…

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4 Years and $2-Billion in Community-College Training Grants, State by State

The White House on Monday unveiled the winners of the fourth and final round of Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grants. This year $450-million went to nearly 270 community colleges that volunteered to work with 400 employers to train displaced workers for high-skill, high-wage occupations.

All told, nearly $2-billion in job-training grants have been awarded under the program, which was created as part of the 2009 economic-stimulus legislation. A searchable and s…